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CANO Newsletter                                                          January 2018
  1. From the Executive Director's Desk
  2. CASA Volunteer Spotlight - Charylene Smith
  3. January Parenting Tips:  Managing Your Family's Digital Lives
  4. More CASA Volunteers Needed!
  5. Help Us Tell Our Story!
  6. Make a Difference in the Life of a Child - Donate Monthly to CANO
  7. Like Us on Facebook
  8. Support CANO - Shop at

From the
Director's Desk


Happy New Year to each of you. As I read the articles in this edition of the newsletter, I thought of something Irish Statesman Edmund Burke once said: "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." When I am tired and want to give up, I remember that quote. There are children counting on me. 

This quote also applies to our CASA Volunteer of the Month. I remember the first time I met Charylene Smith. She came into the restaurant where a group of prospective CASA volunteers was meeting and announced that she simply wanted to help children. She had already made up her mind. No questions. No doubts. She was busy, but she would make time. "This is important," she said.

Oh, how I wish CANO had a few more Charylene Smiths. There is no telling what we could do!



Volunteer Spotlight


This month’s CASA Spotlight features Charylene Smith who serves as an CASA volunteer working with abused and neglected children in Craig County.


With a tremendous love for children, this retired teacher, brings a straight-forward, no-nonsense style to working on the CASA cases to which she is assigned.

Born and raised in Texas, Charylene began her teaching career there before moving to Cimarron County, OK, where she continued her profession as both a teacher and a principal.  Before retiring, she was the Title I Coordinator in Walsh, CO.


Charylene and her husband raised their son and daughter in Keyes, OK, where her husband managed a ranch.  Unfortunately, in 2002 her husband was killed in a ranching accident.


After retiring from her position in Walsh, Charylene moved to Oklahoma to be near her grown children and her four “perfect” grandchildren. After the move, she began seeing the ads on television about CASA and thought it might be something she would be interested in doing because of her love for children.


With a huge “heart” for kids, she explained, “Teachers know things are going on a lot sooner than anybody else does because they have the kids the majority of the day.  You don’t necessarily know specific things that are going on, but you know there is a reason this kid is not getting his homework done.  Through experience, you can spot the kiddos that are having extreme problems.”  So, in 2014, Charylene decided to take the training to become a CASA volunteer.


While she enjoys the CASA work, she stresses that the sadness that is involved with the cases breaks one’s heart.  But it brings her far greater joy to be able to help these children.  She shared that her joy comes from, “that I might be able to bring some tiny, tiny piece of relief to those kiddos, to provide some answers to their problems, and to assist in getting them what they need to progress.”


She continued, “As a teacher, I always felt that after they left my 6th grade class, they would be out in the big wide world and the world was going to eat them up, so I wanted to get them ready before they left my class.  I feel very protective that way – of the classes that I taught and of my CASA children.”


Charylene indicates one of the biggest challenges in being a CASA volunteer comes with dealing with parents who are failing to be a good parent.  She stated, “I just want parents to be parents.  I felt that way as a teacher in school, too.  In the Bible, God gives you a mom and a dad and there’s a reason.  It’s because children need a mom and a dad.  However, when moms or dads spend their time hurting their children, I don’t have a lot of patience for that parent, because their child is going to suffer from their inadequacies the rest of their lives.”


However, Charylene indicates that there are rewards in being a CASA, too.  She shared, “The biggest reward is finally seeing children have a good, stable permanency in their life – and to finally have the chance to become a productive member of society and to feel good about themselves – to be able to get past the bad stuff and to go on with their lives.


When asked about the activities she does with the children on her CASA cases, Charylene shared, “I like to visit one-on-one with them in their rooms, so I can see what their little life is like.  I do not like to ask all of those prying questions that they have had to repeat 150 times.  I just want them to be able to share with me what they are comfortable to share.”


“I also enjoy going with DHS if they do family visits”, she continued.  “I enjoy going with them, so I can just glean from their conversations and their questions what I need to know.  I can certainly have input with any of that and have always been welcomed to do that.”


“I will tell you that Craig County DHS is incredible,” Charylene added. “They are right on target with what they do, and they include me in everything.  They answer every question I have and they’re incredible in that way.”


When asked what she would tell someone considering becoming a CASA volunteer, Charylene stated, “I would tell that they better be able to endure the hardships that they are going to see, the things that these little kiddos are going through.  And they better be able to step up and say what’s right or wrong in these situations and be willing to put the facts out there." 

Sandra Rains, Advocate Coordinator for Craig and Rogers County, underscored Charylene’s readiness to state the facts.  Sandra shared,

Charylene is very nurturing and has a sweet disposition, but she doesn't have an issue with speaking up during meetings or hearings about her concerns on her cases. She uses her words wisely and is very articulate in getting her point across. Craig County is very fortunate to have Charylene as a CASA volunteer.

We are grateful to the dedicated men and women, like Charylene, who have stepped up to advocate for abused and neglected children in northeast Oklahoma.  Please join us in thanking Charylene for service to the children in foster care in Craig County.

January Parenting Tips

During the month of January, CANO is featuring tips on “Managing Your Family’s Digital Lives” and “Ways to Entertain Your Child Without Screens” on our Facebook website ( 

Check the site daily to learn ways families can cope with the ever-increasing demands of a digital world.

Pictured above:  Kennedy and Matthew using the new electronic devices they received for Christmas.  (Children of Matt and Karri Polson of Owasso.)

Managing Your Family's Digital Lives

In today’s high-tech world, families are constantly being challenged by digital media. Child Advocates of Northeast Oklahoma (CANO) suggests families consider making 2018 a year to “unplug” from too much media usage and “plug” into spending more time with their children.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a study in November 2016 indicating a growing number of problems in children and adolescents who spend too much time in front of “screens.”  While the AAP recognizes there are many benefits to media usage, they express growing concerns about links to some adolescent problems, such as adolescent obesity, sleep disorders, and a negative impact on academic retention.  


To aid families in managing their digital lives, CANO has written an overview of the AAP report with tips and recommendations for managing your family's electronic usage, including the AAP's recommendation to develop and consistently use a “Family Media Use Plan”. 

To read the full article and to access a
guide to help your family develop a media usage plan unique to the needs of your family, visit our website:

More CASA Volunteers Needed!
With more than 15,000 cases of child abuse and neglect reported by the Oklahoma Department of Human Services in 2016, more CASA volunteers are needed. 

Do you know someone who could serve as an advocate and mentor for these neglected children while they are in the juvenile court system?  If so, please encourage them to sign up for our CASA Training Classes so they can help make a difference in the life of an abused child!

CASA Training Classes
Mondays, 9:00 AM-4:30 PM / Feb. 26, Mar. 5, 19, 26
Grove Public Library, 1140 NEO Loop, Grove
To register, contact: Gayle Hanson, Training Coordinator / 785-623-6955 or 918-923-4570

For more information, visit:

Help Us Tell Our Story!

A member of our staff would love to share with your business, church, or professional group how CASA volunteers are making a difference in the lives of children in northeast Oklahoma. 

Simply call us at 918-923-4570 to set up a time for us to make a presentation to your group.

Make a Difference in the Life of a Child -

Donate Monthly to CANO!

Donations made by supporters like you help Child Advocates of Northeast Oklahoma provide CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) volunteers to serve as a "voice" for abused and neglected children in the judicial system. 

A monthly donation (large or small) means a CASA volunteer can help ensure better outcomes for children in foster care.  Because CASA volunteers handle just one or two cases at a time,  they can give each child's case sustained, personal attention.

In addition, children with CASA volunteers spend less time in long-term foster care, experience fewer out-of-home placement, and have significantly improved educational performance; and more than 90 percent of children with CASA volunteers never re-enter the child welfare system.  

Please consider donating to CANO throughout 2018!
Do you follow us on Facebook?  If not, please visit our Facebook page (LINK) and click the "like" button to stay connected with us.  Then click the "invite friends" button to invite your friend to follow our page, too.

During 2018, we will be featuring some great parenting tips, so we suggest that you interact with our page frequently.  The more "likes" and comments you give our page, the more information you will see automatically in your Facebook feed.
Support CANO

Simply use this LINK to select Child Advocates of Northeast Oklahoma (CANO) as the organization you support.  Amazon will donate 0.5% of the price of eligible purchases to CANO. 
Child Advocates of Northeastern Oklahoma is a court-appointed special advocate program headquartered in Claremore Oklahoma. We serve Rogers, Mayes, Craig, Ottawa, and Delaware Counties.

                   Headquarters:                                  Miami Office:
                   200 S. Lynn Riggs                             103 E. Central, Suite 500 

                   Claremore, OK 74017                       (St. James Court Bldg.)

                   Telephone: 918-923-4570                 Miami, OK 74354

                   Website:        918-325-7202     

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